Difference Between Ski & Hiking Socks

Difference Between Ski & Hiking Socks
Skiing and hiking have one thing in common--both require comfortable feet. The best socks keep the feet warm and dry, while preventing blisters. While these features are crucial to skiing and hiking, each sport uses a different type of sock. Using the wrong sock for the sport can cause improper boot fit and overall discomfort.


Many novice skiers assume that cold weather requires a thicker sock. This assumption neglects two important issues: ski boot design and proper ski boot fit. Ski boots come with a heavy liner, which is designed to keep your feet warm. Heavy hiking socks are overkill. They will make your feet sweat. Sweaty feet are wet feet. Wet feet are cold feet.

Thick socks also interfere with proper boot fit, which, like it or not, should be snug. Carving uses lateral foot movements that are not used in hiking. As such, ski boots have stiff lateral support. A thick, hiking sock will bunch up against this tight support system, which may cause you to ski with improper technique.



Hiking socks rarely reach beyond the middle of the calf. In contrast, ski socks usually extend over the calf. This protects the calf and shin from friction.

Moisture Wicking

Cold-weather hikers sometimes wear two layers of socks. The base layer is a light sock liner for moisture wicking; it is worn under a heavier wool sock. Skiers use moisture-wicking thermal underwear, which is worn under their turtlenecks and ski pants. This sometimes leads to the assumption that sock liners are required. As mentioned, properly-fitting boots will keep your feet warm. The extra layer of socks will cause improper boot fit. Your boot liner takes care of the warmth, so your ski socks should take care of moisture wicking. The best ski socks blend wool with a synthetic, moisture-wicking material. At first glance, these thin socks resemble the sock liners used by hikers.


Article Written By Lisa Mercer

In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.

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